Plunket is a nationwide parenting service unique to New Zealand that provides care, support and teaching for children and parents from birth until the age of five. Below are some fast facts about Plunket.
Nine out of 10 Kiwis are ‘Plunket Babies’, thanks to this beloved not-for-profit organisation which has assisted young parents in navigating the ropes of early parenthood for 107 years.
Unique to New Zealand
Plunket is unique to New Zealand and provides free support, services, information and advice on a huge range of parenting needs for all families. They have a 24-hour free-phone helpline and over 300 branches and mobile clinics nationwide.
Within the first six weeks of a baby’s life, Plunket makes contact to arrange the first visit. In some areas a Plunket nurse will visit in the home or in a mobile clinic. These services are free to families with children aged 0 to 5.
Support for whānau
Plunket nurses are registered nurses with a postgraduate qualification. They provide support and advice to help parents and whānau (family) make their own decisions about how they want to bring up their children.
Education and play
Plunket also offers local services including parenting education courses, playgroups, parent support groups, car seat rentals, toy libraries.
Plunket was founded by Sir Frederic Truby King - a doctor whose interest in infant nutrition and hygiene led him to open his own home to malnourished babies. By 1907, there were 13 infants living in his Karitane cottage in Dunedin.
Recognition of work
Recognition of Truby King’s work came from the top when New Zealand’s Vice Regal representatives Lord and Lady Plunket, parents of eight children themselves, offered their patronage - and eventually their name - to the organisation whose mission was "to help the mothers and save the babies".
Royal seal of approval
In 1920 King George V gave his approval for the use of the word ‘Royal’ in the Society’s title. It is officially known as the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.
Back in the day, Plunket training for nurses included "poo parties" where trainees had to determine whether a baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed depending on the contents of the nappy (diaper) - using ‘specimen’ nappies that had been saved by a night nurse.